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It’s all in the mind, says Rhodes

Jonty Rhodes knows all about the heartbreak of being knocked out of a big tournament when you've come in as favourites.

cricket Updated: Oct 05, 2009 23:10 IST

Jonty Rhodes knows all about the heartbreak of being knocked out of a big tournament when you've come in as favourites.

In 1992, it was an absurd rain rule that sent South Africa packing.

In the 1996 World Cup in the Indian subcontinent, Hansie Cronje’s South Africa charged into the quarterfinal with an all-win record before a sensational innings from Brian Lara sent them packing.

At home in 2003, a scarcely believable misreading of the Duckworth Lewis tables sent the Proteas spiralling to an early exit.

This time around, the home team started the Champions Trophy as one of the favourites to go the distance.

And though no one's saying they choked, Rhodes concedes that winning games in big events is about more than just having the basic skills.

“I think a lot of it is psychological,” said Rhodes.

“The team has a very strong batting line-up. The pace bowling is good and the spin attack is also looking good, which has not been our strong point in the past. So to me, it is a psychological issue, more than anything else.”

“One should also understand that South Africa started playing one-day international cricket only in 1991.

“We need to learn a lot, like Sri Lanka did over the years. You should understand that teams like India, Pakistan, England, Australia and even New Zealand were playing cricket much earlier while we were in isolation. We had to learn some hard lessons.”

Rhodes, who is brand ambassador for Standard Bank, said 50-over cricket needed to be leaner, avoiding meaningless bilateral matches.

“I feel the threat is when you play seven one-day internationals, like the one England and Australia played recently in England,” he said.

“It was too long. The Champions Trophy is over in two weeks with just eight teams in the world and some great teams playing the event.

“The public has come out to watch the tournament as they love to watch the best players in the world.”

Rhodes, with his busy batting and electrifying fielding, would have been an ideal player in the newest format of the game -- Twenty20.

“It is skilful cricket, the atmosphere is great. The crowds are always with the match.

“The fielding is very dynamic. I am sad I missed such an atmosphere, but I am happy with what I did,” Rhodes said.

“I feel my journey was fine. I began as a 23-year-old boy and had a great time playing 11 years for South Africa.”